Dual Relationships and Ethical Boundaries
With Former Clients
Grand Canyon University: PCN 505
April 1, 2012
Professional counselors have the obligation to ensure quality and effective counseling toward clients. All the while, counselors are committed to the ethical guidelines that are established to avoid legal, professional malpractice and competent issues. Some of those guidelines consider dual relationships and professional boundaries. Counselors are not to engage in dual relationships with clients, supervisors, and coworkers, and also should be cautioned to prevent situations that may cause ethical boundary violations. However, after a client has completed treatment and has been terminated for some time, some of those rules tend to change. Therefore, counselors should be able to think logically while having criteria to make ethical decisions. Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships
I have developed criteria for former clients to help make an ethical decision as to whether engage in a dual relationship with the former client years after termination. Appendix A describes the criteria within a chart as a process that would take place when the situation arises. Before I make a decision as to whether engage in a dual relationship with a former client, I would consider the well-being of the former client, the history of the client, the medical issues of the client, and then any professional issues that may occur. It would create turmoil for a professional counselor to have any relations with a former client engaging in criminal activity, associate with others who abuse substances, and have inappropriate moral values. People do change behaviors and thought patterns within or after five years. Unless the former client was ordered to counseling involuntarily through the judicial system, I would have nothing further to do with the client after termination of treatment. While considering the criteria from Appendix A, I developed the Ethical Decision Model in Appendix B to describe how I would make an ethical decision. While being approached with different situations, after determining if the former client meets the criteria or not, I would have to identify the situation and dilemma. Then I would have analyzed the purpose of the approach from the former client, the advantages and disadvantages of such dual relationship, and evaluate possible solutions and consequences from engaging in such a relationship. Also, I would consider what boundaries are being crossed. That is actually different than dealing with current clients. In this particular case, when a former client insists wanting a relationship, it would be important to understand the reasons why, what is the purpose, what are the goals and etc. Some people want to have relationships for the wrong reasons, which could be selfish, egocentric, domestic, and socioeconomic reasons. Some of those reasons may conflict with the professional obligations of a counselor. It would be a bad decision for professional counselors to get involved. However, some situations are complex and ambiguous and it would be hard to make a quick decision. That is why I have criteria and ethical guidelines to make a decision and I will incorporate them in many incidents that may occur with former clients. First Scenario:
A former client name John has quitted counseling treatment voluntarily. He returns to the facility at closing hour and initiate a conversation. He explains that he terminated counseling because of his feelings of attachment towards me. He also wants to invite me to attend social events and has vowed that nothing serious until after time has passed and we both knew each other. This is when I exited the facility going to my car.
The dilemma is he voluntarily terminated counseling. The code of conduct states that it has to be five years before having any engagements with the former clients. Meanwhile, he is just...
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